KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government made a mistake more than 20 years ago in its decision to cultivate fast-growing acacia trees on thousands of hectares of land.
State Assistant Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Karim Bujang said the land should have been planted with bamboo instead.
He said bamboo had tremendous commercial value whereas the government faced difficulty converting the acacia trees into cash.
The acacia is not a local species and there have been persistent fears that this tree could overtake the native plant species of Sabah, he said when launching the Bamboo Festival at the Sabah Museum grounds here yesterday.
The state, through the Sabah Forest Development Authority, planted acacia mangium on thousands of hectares of degraded idle land largely in the northern Kota Marudu and Pitas districts with the aim of harvesting the wood to be processed into pulp.
In terms of environmental value, the bamboo emits more oxygen than an equal amount of wood pulp, Karim added.
He said state authorities such as the Forestry Department should look into ways to cultivate bamboo on a large scale to support downstream industries such as manufacturers of furniture, handicraft and disposable chopsticks.
Karim said things that are usually made from wood such as building scaffolding could be made from bamboo as well.
If bamboo building scaffoldings are a common sight in Indonesia and the Philippines, I do not see any reason why we cannot use this material as well, he added.
Noting that there were more than 10 bamboo species in Sabah, Karim said there was a need to incorporate the plant into landscaping and garden displays so that more oxygen could be generated into the environment.
The festival will be held at the Sabah Museum until July 18.
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